It’s a place where you’ll often find people playing “beach” volleyball.
But someday, it could also hold performances, sculptures and public gardens.
Those are some of the ideas Baltimore architectural firm Ayers Saint Gross has for revamping the stretch between Federal Hill and the Inner Harbor so Rash Field is used more by residents and tourists. The designs build upon the city’s goal of making the harbor swimmable and fishable by 2020 and received an award from the American Society of Landscape Architects’ Maryland and Potomac chapters.
Ayers Saint Gross devised the plans in response to the Greater Baltimore Committee challenge to re-envision Rash Field. It’s one of a series of challenges to rejuvenate different areas of downtown Baltimore, including plans for a new arena and an expansion of the convention center.
While these projects have received some funding to move forward, a redesign of Rash Field is still in the preliminary phases, says Jonathan Ceci, director of the landscape architecture studio of Ayers Saint Gross.
A redesign could cost tens of millions of dollars, and it’s not likely to happen in the current economic climate, he says. But hopefully it will someday.
Ceci chatted with Bmore about the firm’s vision for Rash Field.
How would you describe Rash Field?
It’s at the end of Federal Hill next to the Maryland Science Center. It’s roughly 10 acres in size, including the parking garage [land] in front of Rusty Scupper restaurant. It’s not widely used — mainly for volleyball — because there are a number of impediments to foot traffic from Federal Hill to the site, the main one being Key Highway.
What was the goal of the design challenge?
The Baltimore City-owned property has been designated greenspace. The intent was not to build on it but to look at ways to make it more actively used by residents, and to lure tourists. Right now, Rash Field is an underutilized site in prime urban water real estate that doesn’t offer enough to draw people from the Inner Harbor.
What was the biggest obstacle?
The site is basically an island cut off from the rest of the Inner Harbor. Besides Key Highway [on one side], you’ve got the water [on the other side] and a lack of parking garages. The question was, how do you make it a magnet for urban activity?
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